By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
Former Iranian President, abuser of innocents, Holocaust denier, Mahmud Ahmadinejad has joined Twitter, according to reports. He doesn’t have the “verified” stamp of approval yet, but he’s already boasting about his old chauvinist, militarist friend Hugo Chavez, who destroyed Venezuela.
Dictators tend to travel in packs, like wolves and hyenas, preying on unsuspecting and welcoming democracies and feasting on the carcasses of weaker states and moral relativists. Countries that ban twitter tend to have leaders that use twitter. The more they crush the free speech of their citizens, the more they demand free speech abroad. The more they lock up journalists, the more they demand that journalists from democracies give them positive coverage. The more they deny political opposition, the more they demand the right to have their opposing voice heard in other countries.
What’s strange is that democracies and free countries always oblige. When Ahmadinjed was denying the Holocaust he was invited to Columbia University to be hosted and speak freely to students. In order to pretend they didn’t give him the red carpet, the University President said some critical comments in his opening address, but why was a man who crushes the rights of his own students and faculty in Universities in Iran allowed to speak so freely in America. Because of “free speech.” But free speech doesn’t say every dictator gets to choose his venue and be hosted at universities. Free speech doesn’t say private companies such as Twitter should give platforms to hate-speech and dictators who deny twitter to their own citizens.
Dictators tend to travel in packs, like wolves and hyenas, preying on unsuspecting and welcoming democracies and feasting on the carcasses of weaker states and moral relativists.
– Seth J. Frantzman
The reality is that dictatorship is always made more palatable because our democracies always give dictators platforms to address our people while denying the same platform to victims of dictatorship. Ahmadinejad didn’t have to sit on a panel next to dissidents from Iran. No. Dissidents weren’t invited to give a speech the next day and welcomed by the President of the University.
The fact is that western democracies have been collaborating with tyranny for decades, always giving it the platform it denies others. A better policy would be to treat emissaries from dictatorships exactly how they treat dissidents in their own country. If they deny Twitter, they don’t get to have Twitter in our countries. If they deny Facebook to their citizens, then they don’t get to propagate their views in our countries. Our universities often take donations from countries that restrict what their own faculties can teach, they even take donations from countries that restrict women’s rights and gay rights. It’s time for our centers of higher learning to stop participating in the suppression of the rights of others by taking donations from those who deny academic freedom.
Our journalists whitewash and collaborate with tyranny by accepting invitations from dictatorships and whitewashing what happens in those countries, laundering the narratives of regimes, reproducing that narrative without any dissenting or critical views.
Every step of the way the dictator has red carpets put down for them. They travel to New York and go shopping and attend UN meetings. But if a dictatorship doesn’t allow its own people freedom of movement, then they should be denied freedom of movement in democratic states. If they don’t allow women to travel without a “male chaperone” then they should be denied the right to travel in a free country. Those religious fascist countries that force women to cover their hair should not be permitted to have their male-only delegations travel freely in our societies and dress as they please.
We have their wrong-headed view that being a democracy means you grant your values to those who take away the rights of others. Why? Why should a male chauvinist, dictator, tyrant, militarist involved in abusing human rights get to partake of our freedoms? Our freedoms should only be granted to those who do not deny others freedom. You shouldn’t be allowed to travel in a democracy if you prevent your citizens from traveling to the same democracy. Why should they enjoy the privileges of a democracy when they deny it to their people?
For years we’ve allowed this charade, in fact we have encouraged it. The more countries abuse human rights, the more of a red carpet they seem to get. There is no incentive for them to change. They get all the privileges they want.
For a start, remove Ahmadinejad from Twitter. He doesn’t deserve the privilege.